Wake Tech to add several 3-D printers using federal grant

sgilman@newsobserver.comMay 20, 2014 

— Wake Tech Community College will be adding three-dimensional printing to its repertoire this fall, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Three-dimensional printers lay down thin layers of warm thermoplastic that cools and hardens in seconds and can be shaped to create almost any object. The $825,000 federal grant will pay for several three-dimensional printers of various sizes, Wake Tech announced Monday.

The machines will allow students at Wake Tech to design a three-dimensional object using computer-aided design software, send it to the printer and hold it in their hands.

“We should be up and running by July 1,” said Richard Sullins, dean of sponsored programs at the college. “The plan is to have these up and operational so the instructors can have them in their hands for when their fall courses start in the middle of August.”

The printers will be available to seven “high enrollment” classes, meaning most of the students at the college probably will have a chance to use them, Sullins said.

On Monday, at the college’s request, U.S. Representative David Price presented the check from the National Science Foundation to Wake Tech President Stephen Scott.

“This grant will allow the college to develop teaching and training methods that will provide highly skilled workers to the industry and keep Wake County competitive,” Price said.

Scott said the grant could be a “game changer” for the school.

“Innovations like additive manufacturing (three-dimensional printing) demand experts with new skills and the latest training,” he said. “And with this NSF support, Wake Tech will be able to provide that training.”

The National Science Foundation provides grants to colleges around the country, and focuses on science and engineering at undergraduate and secondary schools.

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